Global Radio in breach for Heart Cornwall
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Global Radio in breach for Heart Cornwall

Global Radio has been found in breach of its licence after one person complained Heart Cornwall wasn’t operating within the requirements of its published Format.

The complaintant said the station was not broadcasting enough local news or speech to make it a ‘full service local station’ since changing from Atlantic FM to Heart.

After investigation, during a three day monitoring period, Ofcom found the Cornwall-specific material within presenter links outside of weather and traffic bulletins on Heart Cornwall typically accounted for less than five minutes of output per day.

The average level of speech on the station was around 22% – less than the expected amount of 30-50%. This expected amount refers back to Atlantic FM’s original Format which Ofcom says should still be referenced to ‘in spirit’ whilst Global Radio argue this was removed in common with all other commercial radio licensees in 2008 following Ofcom’s 2007 consultation ‘The Future of Radio’.

Global Radio asked to change the Format of the station to remove the full service speech requirements but this was rejected in 2012 after an Ofcom consultation. The results said the station needs to remain distinctive from the only other commercial station in the area, Pirate FM.

In response to the complaint, Global Radio pointed out the growth in audience figures since taking over the licence from Atlantic FM, saying that “Cornish listeners clearly enjoy Heart Cornwall’s output.”

It was also highlighted that speech content at breakfast was as high as 46%, but fell as low as 8% during the day, and the station had attended over 30 local community events in the summer of 2013.

Global Radio objected to Ofcom’s use of the original long-form Atlantic FM Format which included up to 50% speech. In a letter to all licensees dated February 2008, Ofcom stated that while the new style Formats no longer included specific quotas, the “spirit” of the Format would be firmly regulated.

Heart Cornwall is part of the Heart South West region but provides a Cornwall-only drivetime show as a result of its original Format.

As a result of the complaint, Ofcom is putting the Licensee on notice that, should similar issues arise, it may consider taking further regulatory action.



0 39 31 20 January, 2014 Industry News January 20, 2014

39 comments

  1. DSReject

    Heart Cornwall – and all of Global Radio’s stations – should be shut down immediately and replaced with stations that will provide live (i.e. no voicetracking) local output 24/7 with news bulletins of at least 5 minutes an hour and extended bulletins of 15 mins at 0800, 1300 and 1700/1800, plus a minimum of 50% speech every hour.

    Reply
      1. Guest

        Are you guys going to pay for this then? Perhaps through a significant license fee increase, as your proposals would render a commercial station utterly incapable of covering it’s costs.

        Reply
    1. Bollard

      You’ve forgotten to say why? If the money was there AND this is what listeners wanted then that’s what they would be doing!

      Reply
    2. James Martin

      What decade are you living in? Anyway, we have the BBC Locals for this. Granted, a lot of it is targeted at the nearly dead, but it does what you describe.

      Reply
  2. John Grierson

    Those in Cornwall who knew about my failed attempt with CKFM to get the licence that now-dead Atlantic were awarded, will understand that I am spitting tacks at the way things have turned out. I told anyone who would listen that Atlantic would die within four years (it did) and that the licence would be picked up by a company with little or no interest in Cornwall (it was). I take no pleasure in “I told you so” but it vindicates my fury with Ofcom who made a complete mess of the licence award in 2005.

    Reply
  3. MP

    So one single complaint, probably from a bitter Global basher lands them in trouble.

    There are real issues where people should be complaining about Global, such as the rebranding of Choice FM to Capital Xtra which goes against the grain of the two London FM formats much more dramatically than local content on a station where Pirate FM provides more than enough local content to satisfy the requirements alongside the BBC.

    Reply
  4. Len Groat

    The ‘elephant in the room’ here is that a truly local station hundreds of miles from London can NEVER be served by shows for 18 hours a day that ‘sound’ local thanks to computer wizardry. Such rural stations need 24 hours a day with LOCAL presenters.

    At least Ofcom are finally showing some teeth ~ though I fear they are merely dentures.

    Reply
    1. SL

      I remember a friend of mine who used to do a local evening show on a station in a big conurbation complaining he used to get virtually zero interaction from the listeners. Listener really don’t care if it’s live and local, only anoraks. They just want background music with local news, traffic and information. As mind numbing as it is for those of us who care about radio, Celador’s approach with the Breeze is the only way to keep the smaller local stations on air.

      Reply
    2. James Martin

      That’s got sod all to do with it. The issue is with the speech content, and it doesn’t matter where that comes from for 17 hours a day providing that quota is fulfilled. I do hope this doesn’t mean more speech across the network.

      Reply
      1. Len Groat

        “Sod all to do with it” eh? It’s a CORNISH station that Ofcom expects to hear speech items about CORNWALL on!

        “I do hope this doesn’t mean more speech across the network.” Just go and buy yourself a JUKEBOX dear!

        Reply
        1. MP

          And why should Heart provide a varied speech service when BBC Radio Cornwall does that adequately?

          Atlantic bidded with an over ambitious plan which was never going to be viable as proven when they sold to Global, considering the high reach of BBC Radio Cornwall.

          The same Ofcom who awarded Atlantic with the cumbersome format is the same regulator who have sanctioned Heart after ONE complaint from a ‘listener’ who clearly isn’t an average listener looking to give the company a pasting for previous misdemeanours in their eyes going back to when GWR introduced networking.

          Global should be allowed to take full advantage of the Digital Economy Act in this case considering Heart continues to be third in the market.

          Reply
      2. Len Groat

        + you ARE the same ‘James Martin’ who posted on Twitter 2 days ago….

        “Radio needs to provide content – both local and homogenous* – to provide a point of difference from personal music collections!” !

        *homogeneous

        Reply
        1. James Martin

          Jack FM is an automated jukebox out of breakfast and is a much bigger threat to radio than anything Global can provide. In all honesty, Jack is the sort of thing that should give you and others a heart attack Len… but because it’s not Global it’s somehow OK…

          Reply
          1. Len Groat

            James we AGREE!! Jack FM is no better or worse than any Global station!

            The only difference is Jack FM does not go around trying to build a PR facade of credibility for a very poor, unimaginative product. Also, Global do not value dj’s who know a great deal more about radio (and real music variety) than their over-paid, millionaire London-based ‘suits’ ….

  5. Tony Simon

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, though I’m not bashing my head against a brick wall as life is too short. We’ve got too many stations here. Cornwall is still well serviced by Pirate and didn’t/dosen’t need a commercial sister. Our economy can’t support it. Too many cooks spoil the broth in Cornwall and others areas where there are also too many. Err – hello, shut these poxy little supposedly “extra choice” licences down with a TSA of the farmer and his flock and programmes which haven’t moved on from “guess the year” & “who’s the mystery bore…I mean voice”, “guess the object from these clues”, “what’s this noise”, “what’s these lyrics?, “what’s this TV Theme?” (snore) and “what’s the missing bloody word (still snoring)”. Just leave it to the true creatives & the risk takers who are slick with it or just the slick. Then, when clients have just one place to go, Global can afford to maybe localise the frequencies more – like it was intended to be in the beginning. Sorry guys but, with exceptions (community, small scale & regional) that’s the truth. Enthusiasm/quantity is one thing, quality/business is another. When will people wake up, look beyond their nose and realise that Global etc are probably sorting out the mess left behind by regulators after the IBA…who, by the way…had just moved into the 21st Century when they ceased to be. The only exception now = the spectrum needs a clean-up. Narrow the commercial alternative to our “already innovative in every way BBC” and things will get stronger which, I sense, are global’s intentions. It’s a nice evening so I’m off for a walk…see ya! (it was a summer evening at the time of writing)

    Reply
    1. MP

      This is where I feel a SW regional should have been licenced instead of Atlantic, Palm, Radio Exe and Radio Plymouth.

      Eventually the Devon sallies will eventually end up being hubbed in some way or another, considering Celador’s minority stake in Radio Plymouth, the sell of Sunrise Radio’s share in Radio Exe and Plymouth, while Palm is hanging in there.

      Reply
      1. MichelleB

        UTV should really buy Atlantic, Palm, Exe and Plymouth, network Tony Horne across them 10am-2pm, and Kerry Randall on evenings 7pm-10pm (remember her as Kerry Williams on Gemini FM under GCap?). It could work well for the group, UTV produce better radio than Global do, which is saying something.
        At least their networked shows sound livelier than what Heart or Capital do, and they don’t have a single brand – except for Signal in Wolverhampton and Stoke – but that’s an exception really, but they do have the Today’s Best Mix slogan and a decent playlist.
        Would this work?

        Reply
        1. MB

          Global probably don’t want to sell Atlantic/Heart Cornwall.They will get around this local difficulty by extending local drive time so that it runs from 2-7pm.

          The daytime speech quota will go up and Ofcom will be happy.

          Reply
          1. MP

            Agreed, they’ll probably do a Heart Cymru (formerly Champion 103) with Cornwall where they have additional opt-out Welsh programming to meet the requirements yet the station is based in Wrexham rather than in the TSA.

          2. MichelleB

            MP, my point was UTV buying the Devon sallies to level the playing field.
            The Wave is doing pretty well; it’s small but competes against Capital and sounds a lot fresher than it.
            Heart is very much a more music/less talk station, which is ironic for this licence.

          3. MP

            Heart had a similar issue with the East Midlands regional under Chrysalis, yet managed eventually to remove the heavy speech content which was the legacy from Radio 106 and Century FM.

            The Heart format at least gives the Cornish market a distinctive choice from Pirate FM which I doubt the UTV network would be able to provide.

          4. MichelleB

            UTV’s format that’s on Wish or Wire is a bit of a hybrid between Heart and Capital, and could work possibly.
            Maybe have a speech-heavy breakfast and a networked phone-in between Heart Devon and Heart Cornwall presented by Victoria Leigh, in the manner of Graham Torrington’s Late Night Love? (which, tbh, was better than the current Heart offerings…)

    2. James Martin

      The way I see it, Cornwall now has a great choice in Pirate or Heart. Slick music station versus uber local station. I think that’s a great commercial setup.

      Reply
  6. Declan McGrath

    The applied for a format rquest change two years ago to remove speech content, if they breach teh code again for the third time the will be find! And possible licence revocation

    Reply
  7. Seen It

    What is the definition of a local station? What do real listeners actually want from a radio station?

    The general vibe is music (this can be done nationally with no detriment to listeners). Then there is local news (for decent quality, I don’t see how this can be done anything but locally – however if you walked into a radio station news room even ten years ago you would have found that all local news actually ment in radio was rewriting national storties with a small token offering of actually covering happens within the area when they became big enough to justify a resource).

    Next on the list, travel news – well this can be covered off easily by the likes of Inrix or AA Roadwatch back in the day.

    So what else is radio? Presenter links including local information, well this comes down to actual commitment of putting some effort in on this subject, this can be done as easily via big groups and their smart networking as it can a single person on a single station. It all comes down to actually coming good on their vows to cover such detail.

    The UK has far too many little stations who don’t make enough money to massively be viable these days – simply because technology has moved on and people have many addition ways to listen to music and find local information that radio almost exclusively provided ten years in the past.

    Things have evolved and networking probably should be seen as bringing the amount of broadcasting facilities back down and inline with actual demand for radio as a service. This is probably true from both a listener and advertiser point of view.

    Sad as it is and people have lost jobs because the way things have evolved, but it was always going to be this way when you over expend an industry while it is facing massive competition from new and more dynamic media outlets such as everything that is available online.

    People can find what they want/need via a quick search on Google, the need to exclusively listen via a radio station for local information has been massively eroded over the years.

    Reply
    1. MP

      ‘Local’ should be news, travel, weather and flood warnings. School closures are an archaic feature of most commercial stations as parents are notified by SMS of them during adverse weather conditions.

      Reply
      1. Seen It

        Everything that a radio stood for ten plus years ago can be found quicker online these days. People still listen to radio because they enjoy it and find it useful. However as a service it’s purpose is not as exclusive as it once was.

        Going back in time, radio was probably the most imeadiate way to get vitial information. It will never hold that crown again, too many new techologies have passed it by.

        Reply
  8. Allen Fleckney

    Anyone who thinks Atlantic was sold off because of financial reasons is deluded, it did start with a heavy staff load and poor programming, but that got sorted, in less than a year the reach went from single figures to 17%, and was growing fast, the domain name Heart Cornwall had been bought long before they “officially” took over, it was always going to be sold when it got to a healthier viable business, most local radio stations would have loved Atlantics figures towards the end, and as the figures are now lumped in to hearts south west regional tsa it’s hard to make a comparison, but if you think a second commercial station was never viable in Cornwall you are so wrong, Atlantic was born to be sold for profit, and it was, it’s a shame they won the licence in the first place.

    Reply
  9. Dave

    I love these comments – living in the past or simply not a clue!

    ‘Only have one commercial radio station’ – illegal, it’s called a monopoly, and something which Global is having to deal with with the competition commission! But I guess it it’s anyone else but Global owning it than you would be ok with it?

    ‘People want a presenter in their town’ – there are a few NATIONAL radio stations that would prove that wrong. If you talk to actual listeners; not the anoraks like me, or the bitter and twisted former employees who didn’t make the cut, or the community jocks who think they’re Chris Moyles, but can’t get a job because bosses don’t recognise talent, the real listeners tell you it’s all about the music.

    The simple fact is people, Global’s listener figures are going, on a majority, very well!

    Reply
    1. Seen It

      Probably worth pointing out that many parts of the UK only have one commercial operator. CFM doesn’t have any commercial opposition, The Bay doesn’t have anything that directly up against it either. It’s not illegal, it’s just very lucky.

      It only becomes a problem when you buy yourself a monopoly.

      Reply
    2. Tony Simon

      I love your comment – not properly reading what’s been written v a cc investigation…..both time-wasting tasks! Who said anything about Global’s listening figures? I certainly didn’t but I know they’re good and were always going to be with Richard Park there…and yes I do talk to “actual listeners”. As for my opening point, it’ll all become close to the monopoly it once was anyway…for the reasons I’ve already given (the community jocks you mentioned being one of them) and I also never said I wasn’t OK with Global owning what they do. Commercial mergers and takeovers have been happening since 1964 and nothing new. As for the competition commission, this will give them less to do anyway – like it was in the beginning and surely there will be nothing illegal about that.

      Reply
  10. MP

    Cornwall in many ways is fortunate in comparison to other areas of the UK. Pirate FM is fully local, except for the chart show on Sundays, BBC Radio Cornwall is local for the majority of the day with one national show and regional off-peak hubbing, which leaves Heart as the only station which networks from Exeter and London with a Cornwall opt at drive.

    Two locals and one quasi-regional with Heart is enough surely?

    Reply
  11. no nonsense guy

    By looking by some of your comments, i could’nt help but laugh by reports of one complaint to ofcom , what century is this person living in this isnt the 20th century anymore and if i wanted hear speech, i would rather tune into BBC Radio 4 or a local BBC Radio station, when local ILR station was bought and rebranded by Global, they were their to provide 50% news music and information and heart provide 5 minutes of that during its news hours..

    Reply
  12. Tony Linson

    Strikes me that this is a local Global management issue, whoever is responsible for these services would have surely known what is required, it’s not fair to labast Global in general. It’s a poor oversight but a local issue none the less.

    Reply
  13. James Martin

    You can’t allow a station to network THEN slap a sanction on it for lack of local speech content. It’s very contradictory. Do away with regulation I say, apart from taste and decency anyway, and let the market decide. If Cornwall wants lots of local content then Pirate will clean up. If Cornwall wants a slick music station with big names and bigger prizes, Heart will sink Pirate. I am a great believer in letting the people choose.

    Reply
  14. Nice Jumper

    Why is this not in the recent news list to the right? Is this headline biased: .”after one person complained.” I would have thought “after someone complained” would be more objective.

    Anyway, just because only 1 person complained is not the issue: if they are in breach then they are in breach.

    5 minutes of local content!!!!!!! A true disgrace.

    How many jumpers does Ashley have; he seems to like being photographed in jumpers.

    Reply
    1. RadioTodayLive

      Hello Mr Nice Jumper. The recent news list to the right has the last 10 stories. We have had more than 10 stories since Monday so it has fallen off the bottom, so to speak.

      Also, we’re not sure how many jumpers Ashley has. Probably around the same number as the next man. I’ve seen him in quite a few hoodies too, if that helps?

      Reply

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